What Do Government Job-Seekers Want?
Given ubiquitous vacancies, we know that cities, counties, and states continue to need all the wisdom they can get about how to attract and retain employees. Last week, NEOGOV teamed with the National Association of State Personnel Executives to help the public sector explore solutions in an excellent webinar titled “The Quiet Crisis: What Government Job Seekers Actually Want.”
According to NEOGOV statistics, drawn from its 45 million plus applicant tracking system, job postings are up 79% and applications down 17% in just the last year. No question that some positions remain desirable, but for half of the jobs posted, the average number of applications is just 5.5.
This hiring challenge is having a strong impact on government services. We see staff capacity issues constantly appear in state and local performance audits, with a NEOGOV survey of human resource leaders revealing the following consequences of the hiring challenge:
Staff burnout (78%)
Increased overtime (68%)
Project delays (43%)
Cutbacks in services (20%)
One of many charts used in the webinar is drawn from a June 2023 NEOGOV job seeker survey.
Since health and retirement offerings are commonly offered in the public sector, “finding the benefits that really differentiate your agency from others” can make jobs more competitive in the applicant market, according to Michelle Cline, director of Product - Recruit at NEOGOV and one of the webinar speakers. Preferred benefits, according to surveyed job seekers were (in this order): Flexible work hours, remote work options; four-day work weeks; extra vacation days; performance pay, and potential bonuses.
Job seekers also highly favored timely communication from potential employers, wanted honest feedback on why they weren’t selected and yearned for a public sector hiring process that is far faster.
Cline and webinar panelist Michaela Doelman, State Chief Human Resources Officer for the State of Washington, both recommended keeping tabs on good applicants who may not get the job they applied for but could be ideal for another. “They might be a silver medalist for my team, but a gold medalist for someone else’s team,” Doelman said.